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England in sight of victory

This was the headline in a leading newspaper but I can't help but feel that there is something wrong in it. I would have phrased it as:

Victory in sight for England

Which one is correct?

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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, JSBձոգչ, Daniel, MετάEd, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Nov 29 '12 at 4:12

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2 Answers

They are both correct and slightly idiomatic. One phrase uses for while the other uses of.

Perhaps you might find it easier to accept:

England within sight of victory

The ODO has this to say:

in (or within) sight of
so as to see or be seen from:
I climbed the hill and came in sight of the house
within reach of; close to attaining:
he was safe for the moment and in sight of victory

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Both could be used and I wouldn't want to say "wrong!" but I would say that Victory in sight for England were preferable.

This is because you have consider the Agent role. While 'England' - which points to team of humans rather than the country - are capable of seeing victory, or having victory in sight, 'victory' - which is a concept - is not capable of having England in sight, so to my ears it sounds a little odd.

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Precisely. I wanted to make sure if personifying victory was grammatically correct or not. Seems like it is. –  pareshnakhe Nov 28 '12 at 12:24
    
I don't understand why you think in sight of victory is "odd". It seems perfectly normal to me (and to over 2000 writers there in Google Books). –  FumbleFingers Nov 28 '12 at 13:15
    
You seem to have misunderstood the construction. In both examples, England is the agent, just as both I am in sight of the pub and The pub is in sight mean I can see it, not vice versa. –  TimLymington Nov 28 '12 at 13:18
    
Personification is not essentially a grammatical concept but a stretching of meaning, treating non-persons (including inanimate objects or concepts) as if they were human. All of the following are grammatically acceptable: 'What an idiot!' thought Hermione / the dog / the radiator, but only the first two would normally be considered acceptable. Doubtless victory has been personified, but this is not the case in your example. –  Edwin Ashworth Nov 28 '12 at 13:20
    
And in your example, it is 'England' (a synecdoche for the England team), not 'victory', being referenced by 'sight'. X is within sight of Y means that X can see Y or Y can see X (or both) (and provided they're looking in the right direction!) when used literally. The Greek soldiers were now in sight of the guards on the wall. If only one has eyes, that restricts the literal meaning, of course: I came in sight of the house. Here, only the England players have eyes, and the idiom kicks in according to that restriction: England (are) close to attaining victory. Cf England eye up victory. –  Edwin Ashworth Nov 28 '12 at 13:30
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